|Active business clients
|Professional marketing (traditional)
|Patient marketing (interactive)
|Patient marketing (traditional)
|Professional marketing (interactive)
Neupro PD Global
Neupro RLS Global
Executives say if Mc|K Healthcare was a retail store, it would have a sign that says, “Pardon our appearance while we renovate.” That’s because in mid-2013, owner Michael McLinden kicked off an ambitious initiative to reinvent the concept of pharmaceutical marketing, a process that started with the resignation of the agency’s two largest accounts. Since then, the agency has pared staff and moved offices as it works through its vision for what McLinden calls “Pharma 2.0.”
“Across the pharmaceutical world, there is universal consensus that major change is underway in our industry,” McLinden says. “Yet we all, agencies and pharmaceutical clients alike, continue to operate from the same premises. It’s not because we’re stupid or blind to the reality, it’s that the solutions that are needed are likely to be really transformative, and that requires letting go of current business models and starting with a clean sheet of paper.
“Fortunately, after years of steady growth and conservative financial management, we were in a position to take on this grand experiment and push to someplace new. We may be slightly ahead of things, but as strategic marketers, we need to lead the way. To do anything else would go against everything we stand for.”
The Year’s Accomplishments
Driving this transition is a new strategic framework, S5, that executives say challenges traditional assumptions about where value is created in the pharmaceutical business and what drives the behavior of patients, physicians, and payers. At its core are the “Key Leveragable Insights” (KLIs) that act as strategic “seed crystals” around which branding, medical and commercial messaging, media, and creative take shape.
“We have to move away from the notion that pharmaceutical products are sold,” says Rich Angelini, senior VP, creative director. “They are adopted by thought leaders, embraced by physicians, and trusted by patients. This happens only when individuals see and appreciate value that is specific to their own circumstances.
“The S5 process is about putting our clients in the places where this engagement, experience, and validation can take place, and shaping the brand messages and images so that people discover its value for themselves.”
According to Angelini, as the S5 process has been implemented with various clients, one consistent conclusion has emerged. “The next generation of brands won’t be built by talking at customers with didactic selling messages,” he says. “We will win by getting everyone involved to open their eyes and ears to the different roles that our brands can play in a patient’s healthcare journey, and that patients and physicians can play in our brand journey. In this new world, the value isn’t in bar charts and bullet points; it’s about making a difference in each others’ lives.”
Through this process, executives say Mc|K has found itself working with different types of clients in different ways. In August, the agency won a major pitch for development of the CNS franchise at Upsher-Smith Laboratories. Mc|K also brought in market development assignments from Kencord, for a new line of dermatological products, and Healthentic, for a system to help companies measure the value of employee health initiatives. From long-time client UCB, the agency received two major lifecycle messaging and strategy assignments in Europe and Asia-Pacific.
“All of our activities seem to emerge from two trends we’re seeing in the pharma business,” McLinden remarks. “The first is the wholesale assault on branded pharmaceuticals that is making it increasingly difficult for anyone other than the blockbusters to maintain share and margins. The second is the growing realization that patient health is no longer a simple, linear problem where you take a pill and you get better. We need to define new roles for our clients as collaborators, catalysts, and potentiators, not just people selling a drug.”
2013 is also a year in which Mc|K enjoyed recognition from peers across its business. At the PM360 Trailblazer awards, the agency took home “Best Consumer Website/Online Initiative” for its work on the hormone replacement therapy, Divigel. The agency was featured in PM360’s Greatest Creators Showcase for its Neupro RLS launch program, and the same campaign garnered silver in “Best Professional Print Campaign for New Launches” at the MM&M awards in New York. The agency was also recognized by the Rx Club for the Neupro RLS launch ads and the Mc|K self-promotion campaign.
Structure And Services
Mc|K is a full-service strategic and creative shop working across all media and markets, executives say. Specific activities provided within the S5 process include “Seek” market analyses, “See” KLI workshops, “Solidify” brand platform and strategic brand narratives, “Shape” creative development, and “Sell” tactical planning and implementation.
Mc|K was recognized by PAR Fore Parkinson’s in 2013 for its role as founding sponsor in 2008 and lead underwriter of the charity event that supports research at Georgia Regents Health System. Internally, Mc|K introduced a new charity program called “The Candle,” in which employees were each given $20 to donate to the charity of their choice and challenged to find ways to maximize its impact. The employee presentations on their results, which included the creation of a new charity for a friend with spinal damage and an ugly sweater alternative that raised money for Stand Up To Cancer, were the highlight of the holiday party.